“Basketball” has been synonymous with “Eric Mika” in Utah the past several years, but outside of the state, the BYU big man has flown under the radar.
Last week, Mika officially decided to forgo his last two seasons at BYU to enter the NBA draft. During his sophomore year with the Cougars, Mika averaged an impressive 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, which are numbers that typically turn heads and cause prospects to get noticed.
But with less than a month remaining until hoop dreams come true, Mika hasn’t appeared on many draft boards, instead being listed as one of the countless to go undrafted by DraftExpress and NBADraft.net — the premier, unofficial mocks for the NBA draft.
Still, Mika won’t be returning to school, even if his name doesn’t get called during the draft on June 22. On May 7, Mika made a pit stop in Salt Lake City for a predraft workout with the Utah Jazz, which will be one of many on his journey to proving himself in front of professional scouts. While he isn’t a highly coveted prospect, all he really needs is one team to latch onto his potential.
Why Mika entices scouts
Mika fits the mold of a traditional big man — someone the team can throw the ball to inside the paint and expect offensive production. He knows how to utilize his size and makes the most of the limited space in the paint. Mika, who stands 6-foot-10, did a solid job of catching the ball over the top of defenders at BYU and finishing without trouble, especially through contact.
Those skills are directly transferable to the next level.
While big men aren’t featured in pro offenses anymore, teams do rely on their bigs for bailout plays when breakdowns occur. When Mika gets positioning down low — and it was hard for most opposing teams to deny him the positioning with his back to the basket — teams can anticipate a shot within rhythm.
In nine games against power conference schools in his BYU career, Mika averaged 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds, according to Draft Express. His production was as impressive against competitive schools as it was against those that lack depth, so NBA teams can recognize that Mika will produce and adjust to the different style of play.
On the court, beyond his ability to score inside, Mika has a knack for getting to the free-throw line, which is a skill that’s become invaluable in the NBA.
Mika averaged 8.7 free throws per game last season. For comparison, that would be good for fifth in…